For 830 years -- from 833 to 423 BCE and again from 349 BCE to 69 CE -- there
stood an edifice upon a Jerusalem hilltop which served as the point of contact
between heaven and earth. So central was this edifice to our lives as Jews that
nearly two-thirds of the mitzvot (commandments of the Torah) are contingent upon
its existence. Its destruction is regarded as the greatest tragedy of our
history, and its rebuilding will mark the ultimate redemption -- the restoration
of harmony within G‑d's creation and between G‑d and His creation.
Maimonides writes: "The location of the Altar [in the Holy Temple] is
very exactly defined... It is a commonly-held tradition that the place where
David and Solomon built the Altar on the threshing floor of Arona, is the very
place where Abraham built an altar and bound Isaac upon it; this is where Noah
built [an altar] when he came out from the Ark; this is where Cain and Abel
brought their offerings; this is where Adam the First Man offered a korban
when he was created -- and it is from [the earth of] this place that he was
Here we came, three times a year -- on Passover, Shavuot and Sukkot
--bringing with us offerings to G‑d, and bringing our selves to "see
and to be seen by the face of the L-rd." Here the Divine Presence was
manifest -- this was the archetype of the "dwelling for G‑d in the physical
world" that is the purpose of creation.
The Chassidic masters tell us that each year on Shabbat Chazon
-- "Shabbat of Vision," as the Shabbat preceding the Ninth of Av, the
day that mourns the destruction of both Temples, is called -- we are each granted
a vision of the Third Temple. We may not see it with our physical eyes, but our
souls see it, and are infused with the determination and power to break free of
our present state of galut (exile and spiritual displacement) and restore
the manifest Divine presence to our world.
The seventeen essays and stories in this anthology explore
the significance of the Holy Temple as the Divine "home" and "place,"
as the "gate of Heaven" for man's service of G‑d, and as the ultimate
embodiment of G‑d's desire to create life and mankind's endeavor to sanctify it:
What Was the Holy Temple?
At the Threshold
Somewhere Between Spirituality and Religion
The Anatomy of a Dwelling
Sleep On It
Are You Really Planning to Bring Back Those Animal Sacrifices?
The Palace and the Pigeons
The Intimate Estrangement
The Legalities of Destruction
Shabbat of Vision
What We Are Missing
The Shofar and the Wall
One on One
Take the Temple Tour